IT: Chapter Two sees the endearing Losers’ Club reunite in the town of Derry, Maine, 27 years after its members' first encounter with the terrifying IT.
The club is back to put an end to the deadly reign of the shape-shifting monster they call "IT".
Chapter One’s cast has been replaced by actors roughly 27 years their senior after a time-jump throws us into the present-day.
After the resounding success of IT: Chapter One, the second installation was expected to be more gripping than ever, and the filmmakers did not disappoint.
The film's horror is established in the first scene as we watch IT's embodiment-of-choice, bloodthirsty Pennywise the Dancing Clown, chow down on a child's body.
There is no shortage of blood, gore and jump-scares, and the director's keen attention to detail in recreating scenes from the book is impressive.
Beverly’s visit to her old house and meeting with a creepy old woman is perfectly recreated from the novel. Minus a few details, Muschietti maintains the unnerving rhythm of the scene from the book.
Each character is propelled into a journey of their own, remembering their first encounter with the monster, to defeat him once and for all.
The years spent away from Derry results in the Losers forgetting everything that happened in their lives 27 years ago.
The Losers must collect tokens of their most important memories from the past.
James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James Ranson, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean, Teach Grant and Bill Skarsgard round out the film’s strong cast.
Although the film mostly falls on the darker side of the spectrum, there are lighter moments, including hilarious banter between Richie (Bill Hader) and Eddie (James Ranson).
The characters pick up where they left off 27 years before, and we are given a small glimpse into the parts of their lives we, as viewers, have missed over the 27-year jump.
James MacAvoy’s portrayal of Bill Denbrough is as heartwarming as it is unsettling, as we watch him struggle to cope with his present-day life and relationship.
Bill has established a career as an author, but his inability to write a satisfying ending to his stories gives the viewer a sense of his disturbed and incomplete state of mind.
Much like IT author Stephen King, Bill is criticised for the endings to his stories.
Isaiah Mustafa is convincing as the nervous and desperate Mike Hanlon.
Mike has developed a life-long obsession with killing IT, and the detrimental impact of remaining in Derry are visible throughout the film.
He has been stuck in Derry for 27 years, living in an attic of a clock tower, surrounded by books and artefacts.
Mike is the only character who has not been able to move on, in every sense.
Ransone as Eddie Kaspbrack brings back memories of a young and hyper Eddie’s compulsive fear of deadly diseases and infections, and his uncomfortable psychological relationship with his “mommy”.
The actor splendidly imitated his young counterparts rushed style of speaking and his characteristic body language.
While on the other hand Bill Hader as Richie effectively uses his humour as a defence mechanism in terrifying situations.
However, the admirable endeavour in adapting the classic novel isn’t without its struggles.
Although the ‘Losers’ are captivating to watch given the 27-year time-jump, their personal stories lack the depth and development as expected by the time passed, perhaps limited by the extensive cast and 170-minute run-time.
Many of the characters fall flat as uni-dimensional, and opportunities to comprehensively flesh out their storylines were missed.
Jessica Chastain, who plays Beverly Marsh, is the only female in the ‘club’.
Although Beverly is one of the most important characters in the book as the sole female member of the Losers, her importance didn’t translate on film.
Beverly grows to become a successful fashion designer, held captive by an abusive relationship.
We get a glimpse of the abusive situation, but we fail to understand the true extent of her relationship with her husband and the effect that this has on Beverly.
Beverly’s place as one of the most energetic members of the Loser’s Club in the novel doesn’t translate with Chastain’s portrayal.
Richie is the only character whose arc we genuinely get to witness in the film.
His “big secret” and the insecurities that come with it, along with his “let’s-kill-this-f**king-clown” attitude makes him one of the most captivating characters.
The character of Henry Bowers (Teach Grant) seemed almost unnecessary to the film.
Unlike the book’s version of the character that was as violent, destructive and scary as Pennywise, Henry was treated as another component to the Losers’ past, whose only aim is to continue to make life hell for them.
The pain and suffering of this character went completely untouched by the film.
Jay Ryan’s portrayal of Ben is unfortunately not as adorable as that of Jeremy Ray Taylor from Chapter One, and his scenes in the film were dull and lacklustre. Throughout the film, sparing a few moments, his presence was hardly felt.
In a scene where we should be mortified by Pennywise etching an entire phrase on Ben’s stomach with a knife, the scene is framed to focus on Ben’s chiselled abs.
To Muschietti’s credit, the flashbacks to Chapter One were seamlessly interwoven into the film, as the characters reflect on their previous encounters with the monster.
The shifts in the timelines are seamless.
Although Chapter Two is an exhilarating watch, it pales in comparison to Chapter One.
The supposed climax of the movie, the death of IT, is the most disappointing moment of the film.
The scene puts the Losers in IT's lair but, this time, instead of Pennywise they are confronted with the monster's true form.
The audience is primed for a complete action sequence, dramatic dialogue and gore-galore ... instead the scene falls flat.
The Losers end up shouting insults at the monster as they crush its heart along with its confidence, literally and metaphorically.
The Loser gang aside, Bill Skarsgard shines as the terrifying villain Pennywise.
Skarsgard introduces us to another terrifying element of Pennywise, which is commendable after his creepy portrayal of the clown in Chapter One.
This time it’s personal for Pennywise.
In a scene where Bill is fighting to save a child (a plot echo of losing his little brother Georgie) in a house of mirrors, the clown mockingly bursts the glass to take the child while Bill watches helplessly.
Skarsgard’s commitment to the character, complete with a terrifying smile, constant drooling, and cracking of his voice exhibits his skills as an actor by making this character repulsive in every way.
This movie is a must-watch for all horror film fanatics and Stephen King worshippers.
Chapter Two maintains a can't-look-away intensity, and you experience every moment of the film as vividly as you would if you were there in the flesh.
You will laugh with the characters, be scared with the characters, and you’ll keep wanting more from this delicious horror concoction.
IT: Chapter Two is screening in cinemas now.